Update 11:58 a.m.: Tour bus and pickup collide in Amador County, one dead
IONE, Calif. (AP) ” The driver of a speeding pickup truck crossed a highway’s center line and smashed head on into a tour bus, killing the pickup’s driver and injuring 17 people, authorities said.
The crash on Highway 88 at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday triggered a chain reaction when three cars tried to avoid the wreck, said California Highway Patrol Officer Adrian Quintero. Nine people from those cars were injured, he said.
The crash, in a rural area southeast of Sacramento, also tipped the bus on its side, injuring eight bus passengers, Quintero said.
“The seat belt saved my life,” bus driver Carmelino Solon, 51, told the Stockton Record, as he surveyed the damage. He was not injured.
The bus, operated by Burlingame-based U.S. Asia Tours, had been returning to San Francisco from the Jackson Rancheria Casino when the accident occurred, said CHP spokesman Craig Harmon. Most of the passengers were from the Bay Area.
Investigators were looking into reports that the driver of the pickup had been driving recklessly before it crashed into the bus, Harmon said.
The highway was closed for nearly eight hours after the accident and reopened at 2 a.m. Monday, CHP officials said.
The pickup driver’s identity has not been released.